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Driving back in time as Willenhall car dealer guide unearthed

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 16, 2014

  • The outside of Reginald Tildesley's – note the tramlines – and inside the firm's showrooms

  • The Motorists' Guide issued by Reginald Tildesley and the booklet's advert for a Ford model T

  • Lindsay Gordos shows how small the booklet is

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ONE of the earliest car dealers in the Black Country were Reginald Tildesley of Willenhall.

A glimpse into the company's showroom and the outside of the premises as they were soon after the end of World War One is provided via a guidebook which the firm used to issue to customers.

The book was brought to our attention by Lindsay Gordos of Tettenhall. She said: "My Uncle Fred lived in Willenhall and almost certainly bought his first car from Tildesley's. The booklet is not dated, but I would think it must be from the 1920s," added Lindsay.

The Motorists' Guide is a tiny booklet, 9.5cm by 6.5cm, but is full of information – such as routes and mileage to destinations all over the country and a list of registration marks from the days when towns had their own.

For example, Wolverhampton is listed as DA, West Bromwich is EA, Smethwick HA, Dudley FD and Walsall DH. A picture of part of the firm's showroom is in the centre of the booklet, along with a view of the exterior, with tramlines still running in front of it.

Situated in New Road, Tildesley's were the main dealers for Ford and Fordson agricultural vehicles. Interestingly, the firm's address is listed in the booklet only as "The Garage, Willenhall" and their telephone number is Willenhall 131. No doubt there were few telephone lines in those days.

Inside the cover of the 16-page booklet is an advert for the Ford Sedan. Lindsay said the booklet describes the car as "the ideal business and professional man's car."

Lindsay added that her late uncle – Fred Smith – had never passed a driving test. "In those days you just applied for a licence and away you went. I think tests were introduced in the mid-1930s."

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